This week, I explore a new area for Dove: holiday. The mass brand is embracing the idea of limited-edition holiday products.
Dove, a brand that has been around for 66 years, still has some firsts up its sleeve.
Starting November 1, Dove will exclusively retail its first-ever holiday collection via Walmart, with products selling for approximately $3-$7. Dove already offers bi-annual collections, timed to summer and winter, but the holiday collection is themed around holiday treats like cinnamon pumpkin pie, peppermint bark and sugar cookies. Each fragrance comes in four formats: bar soap, body scrub, body wash and hand wash. Heritage brands like Dove are increasingly aiming to address the needs and desires of their customer base, in the face of competing mass body care brands in a more sophisticated and premium mass environment.
“The holiday treats collection is a culmination of everything we’ve learned and all our efforts from the past, now married with consumer insights around what our consumers exactly want from this space,” said Gaurav Raisinghani, global skin cleansing director for Dove, about both body care and holiday items.
Raisinghani pointed to the well-documented emphasis on self-care since 2020 and Dove’s own research that self-care can be a popular giftable experience. Additionally, Dove’s social listening and search trending research revealed a direct desire from its customers for a holiday collection. Raisinghani also said the holiday collection could mark the start of a new limited-edition scent or a collection calendar.
Raisinghani emphasized that the holiday collection is a strong example of Dove looking to customers for brand direction, but it is worth noting how mass competitors have operated in the space for at least a few years. P&G-owned Native body care has launched a holiday collection for several years, with 2022 centered on a “Naughty or Nice” theme. Fellow Unilever-owned body care brand Love, Beauty and Planet has also debuted holiday products since at least 2019, with an additional focus on celebrating the holidays sustainably. And DTC brand Bath & Body Works, despite not being a mass brand, is always front-and-center when it comes to elaborate holiday-themed products. Its enduring fan base inspires video shopping hauls of holiday products — it has over 400,000 TikTok followers, compared to Dove’s 143,000 followers.
According to Kantar, a key aspect of Dove’s brand success is its creation of many shopping occasions for consumers, as seen in its 150-product portfolio across 10 toiletry categories. The categories include body scrubs, deodorant, hand and body washes, body lotion, and even pre-shower products. All-in-all, Dove products span 60% of personal care categories, and as of 2021, nearly 460 million shoppers bought Dove 4.4 times a year. According to the latest earnings report of Dove umbrella company Unilever, its personal care category earned $7.3 billion in sales in the first half of 2023, a 7.3% growth year-over-year. Unilever does not break out brand performance individually.
The ongoing success of Dove is partly due to the products and branding tied to its nearly 20-year-old Dove Self Esteem Project. The project’s most recent iteration is #FreeThePits, which encourages women to embrace their armpits.
Dove has created a 360-degree marketing campaign inclusive of social and paid media to promote the holiday collection. Back in July, Dove partnered with snack brand Poppy Popcorn to create brand tins and custom popcorn flavors corresponding to the holiday collection. Tins were sent to select media and influencers to tease the collection. Dove will host a launch event for select media and influencers in early October. Dove has launched a paid advertising and content campaign with food magazine Bon Appetit focused on TikTok and Instagram content, plus it’s carrying out paid social plan across Meta, TikTok, Snapchat, and Pinterest. In addition, it’s running two dedicated influencer campaigns that include consumer giveaways and product gifting to #ShowerTok content creators on TikTok.
“This collection builds on the existing equity of the brand, but with an expression of it that feels extremely apt and something that people have truly been waiting for,” said Raisinghani. “Sometimes we focus on need, but desire is an equally big driver.”
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